It’s been almost a year since it was confirmed that both Will Pryce and Kai Pearce-Paul would be heading down under to sign for the NRL’s Newcastle Knights, but the English pair have now finally arrived in Australia with Wigan Warriors’ Grand Final winning second-rower revealing he had other NRL options on the table.
Pearce-Paul has had a meteoric rise in rugby league with the London-born 22-year-old already having made the bold switch to the NRL just three years after his Super League debut, with the youngster having previously come through with Croydon Hurricanes.
It’s not the conventional path that Pryce took, who still has to be applauded for the brave decision to abandon home in pursuit of a greater challenge, with the former Huddersfield Giants man growing up in the heartlands as the son of a rugby league legend. Pryce’s father Leon represented Great Britain 17 times and lifted the Super League title four times during his lengthy career.
Pryce is still yet to make his England debut but that came for Pearce-Paul last year at the World Cup and the Londoner has now revealed he withdrew from England selection for this Tonga series, in part due to niggles post Grand Final but also to dedicate his focus to Newcastle and the NRL switch.
He told the Daily Telegraph: “I had a few niggles at the end of the season and they didn’t want them to get any worse.
“They pulled me out as a precaution really. I am 100 per cent committed to Newcastle now. I am also 100 per cent committed to my country too but I guess at the time they felt it was the smarter thing to pull me out – they didn’t want to risk anything becoming a long-term injury.
“I got myself straight over to Newcastle to get myself checked. I am all sweet now.”
He revealed an even bigger bombshell to the Sydney Morning Herald though as he confirmed that it wasn’t just the Knights who were eager for his signature, confirming that he even knocked back the mighty Wayne Bennett.
“I spoke to Wayne Bennett about the Dolphins, I spoke to ‘Gus’ Gould about potentially coming to the Bulldogs at one point too,” Pearce-Paul explained.
“And obviously, I spoke to Adam O’Brien at Newcastle. [Gould and Bennett] didn’t put any pressure on me, they just gave me an insight on what it would look like if I was to join their club. They were [both] cool to talk to.
“It was a tough decision, but I chose Newcastle in the end. I went with my gut and I’m sure I’ve made the right decision because I’m loving it here already.”
Pearce-Paul and his English counterpart Pryce will now begin acclimatising to their new home and set about pre-season with the Knights keen to start the 2024 campaign by mimicking their end of ’23 season form that saw them win ten games in a row.